5: How to Search the Web - Find and Evaluate Web Sites

Determine if your instructor wants you to include Internet resources. Learn how to use search engines and subject directories to locate authoritative materials on the web. Books, periodicals and webliographies can also help to find appropriate sources on the Internet. Develop your search skills and practice often!

Evaluating The Web - Criteria for Evaluating a Webpage

Learn how to evaluate web sites by determining their authority, relevancy and currency:

NOTE: Unlike scholarly print periodicals and books, where the information is subjected to a process of review, anyone can publish on the web. Many web sites are also designed for commercial purposes and, consequently, are designed to influence!

General Information about Searching the Internet

Search the Web by Subject

The following web subject directories containing sites suitable for college and university students.
Some of these academic sites may contain a few links closed to those who are not students at that institution.

  • Academic Info
    Subject directory of over 25000 hand picked educational resources for high school and college students as well as a directory of online degree programs and admissions test preparation resources (SAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, USMLE, TOEFL).
  • Google Scholar
    Search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.
  • ipl2
    Searchable subject directory with a wide variety of internet resources created and maintained by librarians and library science students
  • DMOZ
    DMOZ is a human-edited directory of the Web maintained by volunteer editors. It was historically known as the Open Directory Project (ODP).
  • University of California Research Guides
    Arranged alphbetically by subject.
  • University of Delaware Research Guides
    Arranged alphbetically by subject.
  • University of Tennessee Subject Guides
    Alphbetical arrangement by subject.
  • WWW Virtual Library
    Volunteers compile pages of key links for particular areas in which they are expert.

Search the Web by Keywords

Use keywords in "search engines" to search large collections of websites. Different search engines go to different collections of websites. For updates on search engine features see Best Search Tools Chart.

Here is a selection of recommended search engines:

  • ask.com
    Searches for web sites, images, news, blogs, video, maps and directions.
  • bing
    Large, popular search engine where you can search for web sites, images, videos, maps, news, and more.
  • Google
    Large, popular search engine with many special features.
  • yahoo.com
    Categorized directory of websites and permits keyword searching.

Search the Web for Images

The following websites are great for finding images:

  • Featured Digital Libraries
    This is a Pinterest page created by American Libraries. It provides a complete collection of the Digital Libraries of the Week featured in AL Direct since 2007.
  • flickr
    Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license.
  • Google Images
    Search engine of images on the web. Thumbnails of images are displayed based on the search keywords used.
  • Library of Congress: American Memory Collection: Photos and Prints
  • Creative Commons
    Through the use of CC licenses, millions of people around the world have made their photos, videos, etc. available for any member of the public to use.
  • UC Berkeley Library Image Databases

Books In The Oakton Library

The following books have information about finding and evaluating web sites:

  • The College Student's Research Companion: Finding, Evaluating, and Citing the Resources You Need to Succeed
    Call Number: (DP) Z710 .Q37 2011; (RHC) RHC. Z710 .Q37 2011 
  • The Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher
    Call Number: (DP) ZA4230 .H63 2010
  • An Introduction to Search Engines and Web Navigation
    Call Number: (DP) ZA4230 .L48 2010
  • Searching & Researching on the Internet and the World Wide Web
    Call Number: (DP) ZA4201 .A25 2010


You probably know a lot about the web already; there's definitely no lack of information about this subject! Look around you and notice the webliographies in your favorite magazines and web addresses mentioned on your favorite television and radio programs. Be sure to attend a Library's Got Research workshops this semester.

  • Look at the "help screen" links that can usually be found on the top or side of the screen. Information in these "help screens" can save you time and offer ideas on how to search more effectively and efficiently.
  • Some periodicals may have their own web sites but that information may not be complete or may require a fee to access and obtain.